I leave tonight to go to Jackson, Mississippi to be with the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) board of directors for their new project: Emerging Leader’s Initiative. Yes, that’s a mouthful. But it’s also an awesome opportunity as I was one of only a few hand-picked young leaders throughout the country to be involved with some of the heavy-hitters of urban life and ministry:
Among many others…
CCDA’s structure is based off of Dr. John Perkins 3Rs: Relocation (move into the neighborhood), Reconciliation (level the disconnect) and Redistribution (raise up new indigenous leadership). And those are all things that I take very seriously in my life, and try to model each day.
With this in mind I want to leave us with some words on Reconciliation from Dr. Perkins from his book, With Justice For All. I truly look forward to spending the next four days with these proven leaders—leaders who created a movement that has sustained the test of time. Something I can only hope God continues to foster through The Marin Foundation.
The only purpose of the gospel is to reconcile people to God and to each other. A gospel that doesn’t reconcile is not a Christian gospel at all. But in America it seems as if we don’t believe that. We don’t really believe that the proof of our discipleship is that we love one another (see John 13:35)…
To be reconciled to each other, then, we must bear the burdens created by each other’s pasts. And to be reconcilers in the world, to bring others together, we must bear the burdens of both the parties we seek to reconcile…
We must be reconciled to both God and man. The gospel’s first work is to reconcile us to God (2 Cor. 5:18), then, if our relationship with God is right, it will show up in our relationships with each other (1 John 4:20). For my worship to be acceptable to God, I must be reconciled to my brother (Matthew 5:23-24). To be reconciled to my brother I must first be reconciled to God; to remain reconciled to God I must be reconciled to my brother. I cannot have one without the other…If the purpose of the gospel is to reconcile us to God and to our fellowman, if your mission is to be God’s ambassadors of reconciliation (see 2 Cor. 5:20), how do we fulfill that mission? It’s tempting for us to start out with a list of things to do. But that is not how the world of reconciliation begins. Before we can do the world of God, we must be the people of God—the believing fellowship, the Body of Christ. We cannot achieve Christ’s mission each working alone; we must work as a Body, each one exercising their spiritual gifts as a part of the whole. The believing fellowship must be a living demonstration of the love that God gives us for one another. Our invitation to others then becomes, “Come join us in this fellowship which we have with each other and with God” (see 1 John 1:3). Before we can invite others to join our fellowship, we must have a fellowship. So before we can do the work of the church, we must be the church.
To do the work of reconciliation, then, we must begin by being a reconciled fellowship, by being the Body of Christ. We must model the kind of relationships into which we want to invite others. Our love for each other gives credibility and power to our witness. We must begin by being. Being, though, is not complete until it results in doing. As James says, “Faith, if it has no works, it’s dead”. A faith that doesn’t express itself in works is not a true faith. Now that’s good, but it’s not enough. It’s not enough to just be a reconciled fellowship, though that is where we have to start. We must be a reconciled fellowship on a mission. And our mission is to bring others into fellowship with God and with us.
And many of the people in the Christian community movement seem to lack this vision. They love each other, yet they lack this drive to take the gospel to unbelievers, inviting them to join the fellowship… (excerpts from pp. 116-146).
The problem with the culture war that is GLBT vs. conservative Christianity, is that the word reconciliation has become distorted to mean something it is not. I’ll leave it there as I will be expanding on this, and other lingual distortions (and how to fix them) within the culture war starting next week.